I think I got some people arrested yesterday. I’m not sure because Nick and I left just as the police arrived. By the time we turned left out of the parking lot, Nick said he saw at least one guy in handcuffs. I didn’t get a good look because I was driving, but there were two police cars and about six officers. One person had his arms held up away from his sides and was getting frisked.
I did that.
See, I often stop at the library when Nick is at karate. It’s cheaper than going to Starbucks and I can browse for new books. In the past year, I’ve noticed a huge decrease in my sense of security as I walk from my car into the library building. Stuff happens right at the entrance there, people fighting, others cursing and obviously delusional. The police are there almost half the time when I drive past.
Yesterday, on the way home from the karate, I needed to return a couple of movies. Nick said he needed to go into the bathroom, so I dropped him at the door of the library and drove around to find a parking place. Teenaged boys like having that little bit of freedom to walk into a place by themselves.
After I parked and walked to the entrance to the library, I decided to wait for Nick outside. A large group of people were congregated near the main entrance. They were loud and scary looking. I sat down at a bench. One of the group rode a little bike over to where I sat down to wait for Nick. Little bikes spelled drugs to me.
“Hi, do you need anything?” he asked.
“What?” I said.
“Do you need anything?” He was a little less certain once he looked me in the eye. “I mean, there was a kid looking for his mom.”
“I’m fine,” I said a little more confidently than felt. He didn’t move away, effectively blocking me with his bike if I had wanted to rise from the bench.
“I’m fine.” I stared him in the eye until he rode his bike back over to the group of six or seven people standing in a circle.
I pretended to read my book, though I kept my eyes and ears open as I waited. People coming to and from the library grabbed their children’s hands and held them tightly as they exited the building. People walked quickly and deliberately, like they were in Newark or something. One lady looked at me gratefully as if I were a lifeline to her safe passage into the building.
In between pretending to read, I kept one eye on the hallway where the bathroom was. A lot of roughhousing was going on down there.
Then, I heard one of the people in the loud group bragging about his ‘kit,’ about having a razor blade. They were passing what looked like a small bong from person to person barely concealing their activities. One guy dropped a box full things along with what looked like joints or hand-rolled cigarettes. I got nervous as I waited for Nick. What was taking him so long? I wanted to get out of there. Suddenly, I didn’t want him to be alone in the restroom either. He’s thirteen and not small, but I was seriously uncomfortable about his safety. Eventually, I walked into the building to see if I could find a library employee to yell his name into the men's room to see if he was okay. I was talking to a librarian about the problem outside when my son returned.
“Can’t you do anything about those people outside?” I asked her. “It looks like they’re doing drugs right at the door.”
“Are they in the building?” she asked.
“No. See, there. They are standing right there by the bench." The librarian held up her hand for me to wait and disappeared into the office. Another librarian came up and stood with us. If she hadn't, I would have considered leaving.
“Mom, there was a seriously scary guy in the bathroom. He …”
“Did he do anything to you?” I interrupted.
“No. He looked just like those meth guys in the pictures.” Nick had shown me a website the kids had looked at in Health class of before and after meth photos. The after pictures were pretty wicked looking. Zombies, really.
“Did he try to talk to you?”
“No Mom, he but he was in there for a long time and he …” The librarian came back out of the office.
“We can’t call the police unless they’re in the building. Will you call 911 for me, please?” she asked.
“Really? You’re not allowed to call yourselves?”
“No. Would you mind calling them, please?”
“Sure.” I hate calling the police. I always feel like one of those busybodies when I call 911, bugging them about stuff when they have more important things to do. But this librarian was standing there looking at me.
I dialed 911.
“911,” a woman at dispatch said.
“Hi. Uh, I’m sorry to bother you with something that may not be a total emergency, but there is a group of people in front of the Redmond library who seem to be doing drugs right out in the open. They asked me if I wanted anything.” She switched me to the Redmond Police and another woman continued asking questions. I tried to answer as clearly and as calmly as I could.
“What kind of drugs are they doing?”
“I don’t know. I’m not all that familiar with drugs and its paraphernalia,” I said. I went on to describe what I had seen them doing.
“Do they have any weapons?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t see anything like that.”
“Mom, tell him about the guy in the bathroom.” I tried to relay information to dispatch about the guy in the bathroom, but from what I could tell, looking like a meth user wasn’t actually a crime.
“Do you want to talk to a police officer?” dispatch asked. Nick was saying something, but I didn’t catch it.
“No. I hope you don’t mind, but I need to get home with my boy.” I didn’t tell her that I’d really rather my teenaged boy not see any more of these people than he needed to.
“Thank you for calling, ma’am,” she said. It was a relief to hear that. I didn’t want to be that irritating person who called the police too often.
“The scary guy in the bathroom? He left a little package by the sink,” Nick repeated. Shit! Now, that could have been a crime.
“That man smelled terrible, Mom.” He went on to tell me about how the man smelled like chemicals, not just normal stink as we walked out of the library.
As we crossed into the crosswalk, a female officer walked quickly toward the entrance, keeping close to the side of the building. I gave her a thumbs up and mouthed a ‘thank you.’ She put the hand sign for a phone to her ear and I nodded. Nick was very excited. I just wanted to hustle him into the car and get the hell out of Dodge.
By the time we pulled out of the parking lot, there was a crowd of police surrounding the group of people in front of the library.
“Mom, can I have your phone? I want to call Dad.” I handed my phone to Nick in the back seat.
“Hi Dad?” There was a pause. “Guess what? Mom got a bunch of druggies arrested.”
This is not a normal thing for me. A normal thing is making lunches, assessing homework, and taxiing Nick from one activity to another. So, this thing that happened yesterday has been on my mind.
On the way in to drop Nick at school this morning, I suddenly knew the answer.
I needed to own the place. I needed to write an editorial and challenge good people to take five minutes to sit down at the entrance to the library when they came and went. There should be a forum and it should take place right there where the drug dealers do their business. People who cared about the community should congregate.
There should be music.
Girls Scout should sell cookies.
Cheerleaders should hold a car wash. The fire department should have a bake sale. People should let their dogs meet and greet and stand there talking while they play.
If all of us moms who want our children to be safe should own that place. Children and friends welcome. No drug dealing allowed.
Thank you for listening, jb